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Not government function to ‘turn a profit’

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POSTED August 15, 2012 12:29 a.m.

Editor, Manteca Bulletin,

In response to the letter concerning Amtrak in the Aug. 7 “Your Views” section of the Bulletin, “profitability” isn’t a particularly helpful way to look at anything that federal, state, or local governments do. It isn’t government’s function to “turn a profit”.

Amtrak is the nation’s only inter-city rail provider. It carried 30.2 million passengers in 2010-2011, and the percentage of operating costs covered by fares was 79%, the highest return reported by any U.S passenger railroad. No passenger rail system in the world runs without some form of public support, and governments have always played a large role in air, rail, and road travel.  Furthermore, Amtrak is not even expected to turn a profit. Congress removed Amtrak’s “for profit” status back in 1978.

If profitability is the only criterion that we should consider when government gets involved, then how profitable is the Interstate highway system? What about NASA, the Veterans Administration hospitals, the FBI or Homeland Security? What about state and federal parks?  How profitable was Yosemite last year?  For that matter, how profitable is the Manteca Unified School District?  What about the police and fire departments? Did they make any money last year, or are we just carrying them as usual?

If we take this “profitability” of government run entities argument to the extreme, then how profitable is the U.S military? Their budget last year was $1.4 trillion. Did they make money or lose money? 

Let’s take a look at the Republican controlled House of Representatives and the Democrat controlled Senate. How productive and “profitable” has it been lately? Congressional salaries added up to $95.8 million last year alone. In 2010, their health care, travel expenses, security details, and personal spending accounts totaled $4.66 billion. Their retirement and health care benefits amounted to $1.2 billion. So, how did they do? Did they turn a profit?  It seems to me that they have done nothing for the past two years. They certainly haven’t created any jobs. Perhaps I’m being too critical. The republicans in Congress did take at least 33 separate votes on “Obama Care”, and voted it down every time, knowing full well that these votes would have absolutely no affect on the bill. I think it’s only fair to say that they’ve been slacking off.

The Republicans have clearly been unproductive and “unprofitable”, and another glaring example of government wasting our hard earned tax dollars. Maybe it’s time to just sell them all off for 10 cents on the dollar, take our losses, and call it a day. Why continue to throw good money after bad?

Stephen Breacain
Manteca
Aug. 7, 2012

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